As an employer or HR professional, you’re thinking about how you can improve your employee relationships and boost retention. After all, a higher retention rate can:
- Preserve institutional knowledge
- Help your company grow with your employees
- Maintain employee morale
- Save your organization hiring and onboarding costs
To achieve a higher retention rate, you might improve employee benefits like work-life balance programs and strong compensation and recognition programs.
Or maybe it’s time to create professional development opportunities. Offering employees the opportunity to join professional associations is one of the most effective career development benefits available.
In this guide, we’ll cover the benefits of employee association membership for employers and HR professionals, including:
- Increased employee engagement and retention.
- More knowledgeable, skilled employees.
- Networking opportunities.
- Placing your organization on the cutting edge of new trends and best practices.
As work culture places increased emphasis on virtual and hybrid work, prioritizing employee engagement is more important than ever. Whether your business is a small organization with just a handful of employees or a major enterprise, offering association membership to your employees can foster a more empowered, satisfied workforce for years to come.
1. Increased employee engagement and retention.
Professional associations bring like-minded individuals together to advance their skills and explore industry current events.
Association membership can provide the spark you need to boost employee morale at your company and provide the enriching, outside-of-work experiences that employees desire.
Let’s say you work with a local newspaper that employs a team of about 10 reporters and editors. You hire journalism students from a nearby college and want to provide them with a positive experience to encourage them to stick around at your paper.
You can offer these employees the chance to join a professional organization like the Society of Professional Journalists or the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Membership in organizations like these helps young journalists access free resources, mentorship opportunities, and conferences. They’ll get more out of their work and feel a greater sense of belonging within the industry.
The benefits of association membership are multiplied when employers pay their employees’ association dues. Employees will take note of this gesture and recognize the efforts your company takes to ensure its employees are developed professionally. This can lead to greater employee loyalty and retention.
2. More knowledgeable, skilled employees.
One of the greatest benefits of association membership is giving employees access to opportunities to achieve continuing education (CE) credits.
MemberClicks’ guide to association learning management systems states that resources like online courses “foster continuing education for members, providing them with valuable certifications that could further their careers.”
As association members, your employees will have the chance to attend seminars, workshops, training courses, conferences, speaker series, and other professional development opportunities. With all that education, they’ll become more knowledgeable in the industry and more effective in their roles.
Let’s say you work for an engineering firm and your employees join an organization like the National Society of Professional Engineers. They’ll be able to bring insights, tips, and best practices gathered from seminars and workshops back to your organization to improve your internal processes. This might include strategies for facing cyberattacks, managing employees, or lobbying local governments.
Supporting employees’ continuing education is a win-win. It benefits them and your business — they advance in their careers, and your organization gains an empowered, advanced workforce.
3. Networking opportunities.
Associations give employees the chance to connect with fellow members through online forums, chat rooms, and member directories.
In these spaces, employees can make personal and professional connections. In the long run, those connections might even lead to new business opportunities for your company or stronger ties with other industry leaders.
For example, say your organization employs wedding and event photographers. You decide to sponsor your employees’ membership in an event planning association. At association workshops and seminars, your employees form relationships with wedding and event planners, sharing their business cards and information about your company. Soon, these casual relationships turn into professional relationships as the event planners call your employees to take photos at their upcoming events.
Member directories are particularly effective for getting your business’s name out there and raising awareness of your goods or services. A member directory is a searchable database of all the members within an association. Depending on the association, the directory might be private (only viewable by association members) or public (viewable by anyone).
If the association’s directory is available to all, general members of the public can use the database to research and find a service provider. So, if your employees are plumbers and members of a plumbing association, their directory profiles might attract new customers to your business.
These aspects of employee association membership can raise your organization’s status within the industry. As you can see, investing in your employees’ professional growth can ultimately mean investing in your business’s overall growth.
4. Placing your organization on the cutting edge of new trends and best practices.
As association members, your employees will be able to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, technology, and best practices in your industry.
Association membership is often accompanied by opportunities to:
- Subscribe to trade publications.
- Attend conferences.
- Access email newsletters that describe recent developments in the field.
These resources provide insider knowledge into the most important industry developments. Employees can then implement this knowledge into your business’s daily operations to help with problem-solving or scaling up your practices.
When you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in your industry, your consumer base will also take notice. You can distinguish your business by keeping up with or even staying a step ahead of the competition.
Maybe you work for a dentist’s office and your employees join a national dentistry association. At the association’s annual conference, the dentists in your practice learn new best practices for customer service and scheduling. They bring the information back to your office, where your customers can reap the benefits—and, hopefully, start expressing greater satisfaction with your services.
With this focus on improvement, you can show customers that your organization is vibrant and ever-evolving to meet their needs and preferences.
As you can see, encouraging employees to join relevant associations and sponsoring their memberships can pay off for your organization in the long run. Your organization will be able to:
- Improve employee morale
- Foster a more knowledgeable workforce
- Grow your business through networking opportunities
- Understand current trends and best practices in the industry.
But offering employee association membership opportunities isn’t enough. Remember to also communicate with your employees about the benefits they’ll gain from getting involved. Also, provide them with the information they need to sign up, whether that’s the organization’s website URL, registration link, or email address.
You’ll be able to reap the benefits of employee association membership faster if you equip them with the information they need to sign up and get involved in a professional organization. Good luck!
Inbound Marketing Team Leader, MemberClicks
Andrew leads the Inbound Marketing team for Personify’s MemberClicks and Wild Apricot products, helping non-profits, associations, and clubs discover the software they need to empower their missions. A veteran of the SaaS space, Andrew focuses on the use of data and analytics to create demand generation campaigns and content assets that speak to the most pressing needs of Personify’s audience. When he’s not overseeing the marketing activities of MemberClicks and Wild Apricot, you can find him volunteering with his local residents association.